On 12th May 2021, Her Majesty the Queen announced an opportunity to ‘simplify procurement in the public sector’ as part of the UK’s post-Brexit trade strategy. A new Procurement Bill is set to be introduced in September this year to make procurement procedures quicker and easier, to create more leeway for suppliers, and to enable the public sector to work more collaboratively with the private sector. The bill follows a government consultation on the green paper for procurement reform, calling for procurement regulations to be streamlined, replacing the four separate regulations covering public contracts, utilities, defence, and concessions with a single and uniform framework. The Government plans to imminently publish its first ever National Procurement Policy Statement (NPPS) to outline the strategic priorities for public procurement and how contracting authorities can support their delivery. Approximately £290 billion is spent every year on public sector procurement, accounting for one third of all public expenditure. It is crucial the spend supports economic growth, helps communities recover from the Covid-19 pandemic, and underpins the net zero carbon goal. Efficient and effective public procurement can play a significant role in our country’s economic recovery. One extremely effective method of efficient procurement is batching projects together for a programme of works. So, what are the top five benefits this can have for a construction project?
Here at Procure Partnerships Framework we have supported projects of this nature for valued clients such as Bradford Teaching Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust, Northampton General Hospital NHS Trust, The Rotherham NHS and Leeds Teaching Hospital NHS Foundation trust, with incredible results! In this article, with support from Tilbury Douglas, Key Account Manager Conor Neild-Crabb will explore what the top five benefits batching projects together can have on a construction project.
1. Consolidated Workforce
Batching multiple smaller projects into one consolidated programme of works enables a contractor to analyse what resources are needed on site and coordinate the workforce to reduce the number of different teams required throughout the project delivery. This is particularly important for construction workers operating throughout covid restrictions to observe social distancing guidelines. One consolidated contract will appeal to larger main contractors who would have overlooked smaller individual schemes, and so the project will benefit from their extensive skilled workforce, health and safety management, logistics and operations planning and their experience and expertise in delivering complex public sector projects. Working to time critical deadlines and with many projects underway on sites where facilities need to remain operational, it is of paramount importance that live construction sites operate safely and efficiently, ensuring the number of people working on site is controlled and well-managed. Not only does this reduce project risk, but it also creates a safe and collaborative working environment and reduces labour costs. With a consolidated workforce, resources such as Contract Managers, Health and Safety Managers or site supervision teams are shared and therefore overheads are reduced.
2. Cost Savings on Prelims
Preliminaries, or ‘prelims’ in a construction framework contract, refer to the section in the bills of quantities which group together items necessary for the contractor to complete the works, but will not actually become part of the works, such as scaffolding, plant machinery and equipment, water, the cost of power to the site and other site overheads. Batching projects together allows for a smart and tactical procurement strategy where materials and equipment can be shared across the project sites, reducing the number of deliveries, and consequently reducing the project’s carbon footprint. All public sector projects must demonstrate a commitment to environmental and sustainability improvements, and so refinements that continuously improve efficiency and reduce carbon emissions and waste demonstrate a real commitment to net zero carbon targets in addition to lowering the overall project delivery costs.
3. Strengthens Trust
Amalgamating projects into one contract means the client has one contractor as their main port of call, rather than having to deal with multiple organisations. Managing the communication between just two organisations simplifies processes and improves the chances of building a strong working relationship. It is this open dialogue and rapport that strengthens the trust between a client and contractor and establishes a long-lasting relationship crucial for the success of a project and for future partnerships. Public sector projects often require numerous project planning meetings and so having one contractor on site for the lifetime of the project improves site knowledge and ensures continuity, helping the project team to manage the workflow, monitor progress and ensure works are kept on time and within budget. In addition to strengthening the working relationship, batching projects to create a single programme of works can speed up processes through efficient communication and faster decision making, improving overall efficiency, and reducing costs.
4. Batch Order Materials
The ability to combine orders for materials improves buying power and therefore allows contractors to deliver better value to their clients. Consolidating the procurement of materials and equipment needed for the batched projects means larger quantities can be ordered and better pricing negotiated. This ability to scale up means procurement teams are not duplicating workload and materials can be sourced from suppliers who offer the best proposition for price, quality, and delivery. It allows the supply of materials to site to be coordinated to fit in with the schedule of works. Batch ordering requires thorough pre-contract planning to maximise buying opportunities, which is where working with an experienced contractor really has its benefits, as they can consult with the design team to reduce overall project costs and deliver a budget with excellent ROI.
5. Quicker Mobilisation
The benefit of working with one contractor to deliver numerous batched projects is that mobilisation of the project, getting it off the ground, can happen a lot quicker. The contractual process is less complicated when a main contractor heads up the programme of works, compared to lots of smaller schedules all requiring contractual agreements with many different suppliers. Mobilisation activities that are key to delivering a project successfully can happen a lot quicker and will keep the project moving forward. Keeping a project on track is important to avoid unnecessary costs being incurred.
Opportunities to improve value for money and deliver environmental and social value throughout the public procurement process can be easily identified by engaging with a reputable and experienced UK framework provider such as Procure Partnerships. As a leading procurement framework specialist for public sector projects, we implement flexible and innovative procurement practices, such as batching project contracts, to continuously improve value and deliver successful outcomes. Our Framework Managers have sector specific expertise in construction frameworks that means construction projects are well managed and cost savings can be accomplished to reduce project budgets. Managing multiple projects is complex and time consuming, and therefore leaving this to a procurement framework specialist will give public sector bodies the peace of mind that a trusted and reputable contractor has been appointed who can deliver successful project outcomes.
Phil Shaw, Divisional Director, Tilbury Douglas, commented: In the last 10 years I have seen a real shift in our customers wanting to batch up projects and procure in bulk. The visibility of the work and the economies of scales we can drive into the programme have direct benefits, allowing us to invest in our people and supply chain. Repeat business makes successful business and this new Procurement Bill will be both beneficial for our Industry and valued customers”.